A beautiful room to spend an hour in
In the middle of the forest sits Curawood’s garden, in the middle of the garden stands a magical tree which gives life to all that surrounds it! However, the evil which hated the wildlife it brought to the world, so raging with jealousy she cursed the land. The tree stands, but weakening; find the elements to bring the tree back to life before it’s too late.
In the hallway, standing outside the doors to Inbound and Curawood’s Garden, we received our fourth and final briefing at Escape Hub. Unlike Inbound, The Laughing Lair, and Mr Brenchley, the door to Curawood’s Garden didn’t carry the theming into the hallway, but I suspect that that will not be the case the next time we visit Escape Hub, and as soon as they finish the build for Coming Home, the door to Curawood’s Garden will suddenly have a magical makeover.
As this was our fourth room of the day at Escape Hub, the health and safety brief was, in fact, rather brief, although it did come with an extra warning for Gord to watch his head. And with that, we hung our coats on the hooks outside and were ushered through the door into Curawood’s home to lift the curse on the garden.
The game unfolded in a multilinear manner, and while puzzles predominately revealed codes for a variety of padlocks, Curawood’s Garden was not without its surprises, with a great many tasks that were much more tactile. I found myself crawling and climbing, and playing with many things throughout the set, as there was quite a bit to interact and play with.
A thorough search and excellent observation skills are paramount to success. Players be warned: there are a few sneaky hiding places and we missed quite a few things, resulting in a need for a bit of help from our GM. The puzzles themselves were the traditional sorts of logical and observation-based puzzles Escape Room enthusiasts will recognise, but that makes Curawood’s Garden an excellent room for those new to them, and still thoroughly enjoyable for experienced players, and with a mixture of padlocks and some neat tech, the room was not without a few surprises.
As much as I enjoyed many aspects of this game, it did present one minor irritation. I’m never the biggest fan of padlocks in a setting where they otherwise don’t make logical sense (this is a personal preference; Gord loves the satisfaction that comes with opening a padlock), but I’m even less of a fan when a single item is secured by more than one lock. I had hoped that as the newest game on offer, this particular trope might have been abandoned here, but sadly, that was not the case as this seems to be a hallmark of Escape Hub’s games, and is present in all four of the rooms currently on offer.
Escape Hub’s website carries a warning: “This is a small room, due to the size of the room, there will be times you will have to be very close to each other.” Well, they certainly aren’t lying. The tight quarters don’t last long, but any more than three adults, particularly those that are tall, and things would be rather uncomfortable. Even as a team of two, Gord and I were often very close to one another until the game progressed and the space opened up.
And open up it did. The cute cottage suddenly became a magical grotto, full of endless possibilities, and so many places to explore. With the different, distinctly themed, but still linked spaces, the magical grotto did well to take us on a magical adventure. The set design of this room is on a completely different level to the older rooms at Escape Hub, Laughing Lair and Mr Brenchley. It may be because it’s newer, but the quality of the build is several steps above the older games, but it’s not just that. It’s clear that Escape Hub have taken what they’ve learned and built upon it, with a game that uses the set to enhance the story and provide a bit of wonder, evoking a cosy and magical feeling that would have made me happy to spend even more time just enjoying the surroundings.
The cosy feeling persisted throughout the game, and every time a new door opened, I was excited to see what would happen. The tasks all revolved around the central theme, and when we did finally gather the needed elements, the finale was clear and gave a satisfying conclusion to the game.
Clues came over the speakers in the room, and we definitely needed them, generally due to uselessness on our part – not checking each other’s work, making false assumptions, and just a general inability to observe our surroundings properly. Despite this, we did escape in just over 35 minutes, although, had the room contained a timer of some description, we might have put off asking for clues and tried to search a bit longer to see if something clicked, but without any indication of how long was left, we didn’t want to waste any time faffing about and getting frustrated.
Andy was certainly on the ball, and nudges were delivered swiftly as soon as we admitted that we needed assistance. In our debrief, I got the impression that a few of the things we struggled with are elements they’re finding people frequently need clues on, and may be rectified in the near future, with subtle, but clear signposting, making the things that we missed stand out just a bit more.
I frequently see people asking for recommendations regarding games that would be suitable for children. With the magical set, tactile and physical challenges, and a hefty amount of searching, I have absolutely no reservations adding The Curse of Curawood’s Garden to the list of rooms that would be enjoyed by players of all ages, young and old alike.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 35:09
Address: 39 High St, Maidstone ME14 1JL